Dating & Relationships

Have You Reached Out to or Heard From an Ex During the Pandemic? You’re Not Alone

May 6, 2020 by Justin Lehmiller


Anecdotally, I’ve heard from a lot of people who have said that they reached out to (or heard from) an ex-partner since the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic began. But just how many people have done so? And what motivated them to reconnect?

Some of my colleagues and I at The Kinsey Institute are currently in the midst of researching how this pandemic is affecting people’s intimate lives (click here if you’d like to participate and learn more about the study), and our preliminary data suggest that reaching out to an ex isn’t a rare occurrence.

We asked about connecting with exes in one of our waves of data collection, and we found that about 1 in 5 participants said they had personally reached out to at least one ex. Of that group of folks, nearly half said that they have reached out to multiple exes.

In addition, about 1 in 4 people said they’ve heard from at least one ex. Of these folks, most said they replied to their ex.

Perhaps not surprisingly, single people were more likely to say they had reached out to an ex compared to people in committed relationships by about a 2-to-1 margin. Specifically, about 28% of singles had done so, whereas just 13% of people in relationships had. Singles were also more likely to have reached out to multiple exes.

So why are so many people reaching out to their exes right now? The single most common reason—regardless of one’s current relationship status—was to check on them. Specifically, they usually wanted to ensure that their ex was safe and healthy, or to see how they were coping emotionally.

However, a minority of participants reported reaching out for a range of other reasons, including feeling lonely or bored, wanting sex or a hook-up, craving physical touch, checking to see if they were dating someone new, checking in on their shared children, and/or wanting to rekindle the relationship (note that participants could select multiple reasons, so sometimes more than one applied). Clearly, there are a lot of different potential motivations! 

The odds of reporting these additional reasons varied based on relationship status. For example, singles were more likely than people in relationships to reach out to an ex because they were feeling lonely or bored, they yearned for something familiar, or they wanted to get back together.

That said, there were at least a few people in committed relationships who reached out because they were thinking about committing infidelity—they were looking for a hook-up or to rekindle a past flame. This suggests that, for a small number of people, this pandemic may be shifting how they feel about their current relationship or making them reconsider past relationship decisions.

So if you’ve found yourself reaching out to exes lately or if any exes have reached out to you, you’re certainly not alone! This seems to be a fairly common occurrence right now.

Have you reached out to or heard from any exes recently? If so, why? Let us know in the comments section.

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Image Source: 123RF

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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